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Public Services

   Public Services' Edgar Atkins uses a remote camera
to examine a storm sewer line at Greer City Park.

For members of the City of Greer Public Services Department, 2011 will be remembered as the year that came in with a winter vengeance and went out with a whimsical contest to locate three red Christmas lights in Greer Station.

In between was an abundance of work that kept the city looking and operating its best. From sidewalk repair to cleanup after the city many festivals, department members are charged with tasks that the public may not even notice.

“There are expectations that the City of Greer will look inviting and that such issues as potholes will be addressed quickly. We’re proud that our department has played a large role in creating those expectation,” said Skipper Burns, director of the public services department.

It doesn’t happen often in South Carolina, but snow removal fit into those expectations in 2011. An early January snowstorm blanketed the city with eight inches and temperatures that danced above and below the freezing mark for the next three days kept the public services crew busy around the clock.

Logging 593 man hours and spreading 120 tons of sand, department members kept the city’s primary roads passable until Mother Nature finally melted off the last of the roadway ice.

“Our guys keep the equipment prepared,” Burns said. “They’ve done this enough that they know what to do and what to look for.”

That’s one of the many skills the staff bring to their work. They are responsible for installing and repairing city street signage, filling potholes, and repairing curbs, storm drains, and sidewalks.

During 2011, public services repaired and replaced approximately 500 feet of sidewalks adjacent to local state-owned roads as the South Carolina Department of Transportation paid for the concrete and the city did the work.

Solid waste removal and recycling also falls under the responsibility of public services. One of its more visible activities is removing loose leaf piles from city residences on a scheduled rotation during the late fall and winter months.

For the third consecutive year, the department made that program easier for residents by mailing a loose leaf removal brochure with instructions and schedules for each area of the city.

The year did bring a new term to city residents. By state law, e-waste was banned from South Carolina’s landfills beginning July 1, forcing the city to cease collection of electronic materials as part of its residential curbside trash collection. Public services staff delivered  a door hanger explaining the law to every city residence and made e-waste collection available at its sixth annual Amnesty Day, an opportunity for city residents to drop off bulky and nuisance trash items that are not collected curbside.

The response, according to Burns, was “overwhelming.”

The e-waste restrictions helped draw more than 300 residents to the City of Greer Recycling Center – more than double the number of the past three years combined. In addition to normal items such as pesticides and paint, workers saw a steady stream of cars with such e-waste items as old computers, printers, televisions, and cell phones. The crew collected 353 pieces of electronic equipment, 2,199 gallons of paint, 28 batteries, and 131 containers of chemicals.

“It was by far the most participation we’ve ever had at Amnesty Day,” Burns said. “We advertised it more because of the e-waste law and people obviously were paying attention.

The department took advantage of a grant from the S.C. Municipal Insurance Trust to improve worker safety in and around work zones, purchasing steel-toe boots, vests, Tyvex suits, and safety glasses in 2011.

“The grant not only helped purchase equipment to protect city workers, but also kept it from being an expenditure from our budget,” Burns said. “We try to be good stewards of our resources by looking for alternative funding sources.”

An experience from 2010 led Burns to develop a highly-visible marketing campaign for Greer Station in 2011. Recalling the tongue-lashing he received from a woman who spotted an odd-colored bulb among Greer Station’s white lights, Burns suggested a contest in 2011. Visitors to downtown Greer during December had an opportunity to win one of three restaurant gift cards by locating three red bulbs among the thousands of white lights in Greer Station.

The “Odd Bulb Out Holiday Hunt,” sponsored by the Greer Station Association and the City of Greer, drew participants from as far away as Piedmont and Travelers Rest.


Dual disposal options drive recycling in the city


The City of Greer completed the first full calendar year of operation at the City Recycling Center in 2011 and the numbers “continued to rise at a steady pace as residents have made visits to the site a regular part of their routine,” according to public services director Skipper Burns.

The center noticed a significant increase in cardboard over curbside collection and accepted 26.4 tons of plastic, which is not collected curbside. Aluminum was the only recyclable with more curbside pickups.